EuroCC@UK: promoting excellence in HPC, HPDA and AI

Author: Mark Sawyer
Posted: 7 Jun 2021 | 10:05

The European Commission has launched a network of National Centres of Excellence in High-Performance Computing (HPC), High-Performance Data Analytics (HPDA) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). The UK centre will be delivered jointly by EPCC and the Hartree Centre.

The objectives of the network are to increase the accessibility and availability of HPC, HPDA and AI in each centre's country, and provide a single “front door” into HPC research and development capabilities for industrial customers and academic researchers alike. The adoption of strategy based on national centres reflects the differing levels of maturity across Europe of these technologies, allowing countries to focus on their own priorities. In addition to the work done at the national level, the NCCs will also exchange knowledge with each other via the EuroCC network. This will help to establish best practice and elevate the quality of research and innovation in HPC, HPDA and AI to a common high standard across Europe.

Together with the Hartree Centre, EPCC will offer training, access to facilities and an outreach programme to raise awareness of the capabilities of the technologies. We will also promote take-up of HPC, HPDA and AI within industry by providing expertise and small pilot projects. 

HPC has a proven track record as a tool for science and industry that delivers impact. Its use has steadily grown over the past three decades into a mature technology that supports many of Europe’s most important sectors, including engineering, health, climate and energy production. HPC in combination with data-analytics and artificial intelligence is set to enable further innovation by enriching iterative modelling techniques. Combining simulation, data analysis, visualisation and machine learning will allow large and highly complex problems to be tackled. Realising the impacts of this at the national level is the goal of the UK NCC.

Training

For the training component of the EuroCC project we are investigating the best ways to produced accessible material. Initially we are looking at the suitability of the Software Carpentries style of teaching (note we are not making Software Carpentries courses, rather using its website templates and methodology). With this style, instead of the traditional lecture followed by a practical session, the content is served up in one coherent web page which the trainee follows, learning and completing the exercises in a continuous manner. These courses can either be delivered by an instructor, where the trainee and instructor work through the material at the same time, or provided as a self-service course. Due to the web-based nature of content is it easier to keep material up to date and include different types of media such as videos, images, and correctly formatted example code. Furthermore, the accessibility is vastly increased as everything can be accessed via a web browser. 

Industry collaboration

As part of its role in the Euro CC project, EPCC is working alongside several companies to leverage the potential of HPC by developing project proposals for further funding and inward investment. One such collaboration commenced earlier this year with Edinburgh based start-up, Danu Robotics.

Danu Robotics has ambitious plans to disrupt the recycling and waste management industry with a novel blend of AI and robotics. One of the biggest challenges facing recycling and waste management is unsorted contaminant such as nappies, miscellaneous plastic, and other non-recyclable materials which still rely heavily on outdated manual processes that carry various economic and safety risks. Danu Robotics aims to develop an AI driven, vision guided, distributive robotics system to automate this process and revolutionise the recycling and waste management sector.

We are working alongside Danu Robotics to further develop its data architecture and novel AI processing models that will underpin the companies long-term business goals. EPCC is providing technical expertise as part of the engagement alongside prototype testing and this form the basis of a larger project.

“Working alongside the EPCC has been fundamentally important for us to design and build a sustainable and scalable IT infrastructure that can support our product development and the growth of the company. The experts’ knowledge provided by EPCC has been tremendously valuable to us.” 
Xiaoyan Ma, Danu Robotics CEO and founder

To discuss how EuroCC can work with you, please contact the EPCC Helpdesk: info@epcc.ed.ac.uk

Authors

Thomas BlythStephen Farr, David Henty and Mark Sawyer, EPCC

EuroCC: www.eurocc-access.eu
Hartree Centre: www.hartree.stfc.ac.uk

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